I’m working through a 30-day yoga intensive. I’ve dedicated myself to a practice of healing, peace and the goddess Saraswati.
I’ve been thinking about my practice in strong conjunction with a chapter I read last night in Donna Farhi’s book, Bringing Yoga to Life. This isn’t my first rodeo in yoga immersion. Just after my yoga initiation, I drenched myself in Bikram Yoga, and practiced for 40 days straight.
I was brought to yoga by searing pain in my low back and hips. Sitting, walking and lying down sucked. I was in pain. At the end of my rope, I went to yoga. The first class was a little iffy. I wasn’t quite sure what I had gotten myself into, but I knew I felt better than when I got there so I kept it up.
Yoga is expensive if you want to practice in a studio with regularity. I worked out a trade. Then I signed up for teacher training. I taught about two classes per week for a couple years.
My personal latch to the garden of spirituality offered by the practice of asana was easily lifted. The hunger and thirst for more, beyond the standard script of a 90-minute Bikram class, was powerful. My appetite is still growing. It’s possible that this transition from less physical and more mental has gotten me to this current place of conflict.
There is still a part of me that enjoys getting a rigorous workout on my mat. As the yogis say: ‘You cannot make the great transformation of steel into a sword without the help of fire.’ I’m ambivalent because it seems there’s an exorbitant focus on conquering advanced postures.
Through advertisements for workshops at the local studio or in media representations of yoga, all of the featured yogis are doing very complicated postures. Without preparation or instruction they could do real damage. The overarching theme in a yoga classes seems to be: Master the flashiest, most gasp inducing asana in the room. We may have a recipe for disaster.
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